Tobacco Use

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Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It affects not only those who choose to use tobacco, but also people who live and work around tobacco. The term “tobacco” on our website refers to commercial tobacco, not ceremonial or traditional tobacco.

Why Is Tobacco Use Important to Health?

Each year, smoking kills 480,000 Americans, including about 41,000 from exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers1.

Tobacco is not only smoked. Smokeless tobacco, while less lethal than smoked tobacco, can lead to various cancers, gum and teeth problems, and nicotine addiction. Almost 6% of young adults use smokeless tobacco and half of new users are younger than 182.

Tobacco use has real economic impacts for individuals and communities. It costs the nation about $170 billion annually to treat tobacco-related illnesses, and another $156 billion in productivity losses. In 2006, over $5 billion of that lost productivity was due to secondhand smoke1.

Researchers estimate that tobacco control policies have saved at least 8 million Americans3. Yet about 18% of adults still smoke. Each day, nearly 3,200 youth smoke their first cigarette, and 2,100 transition from occasional to daily smokers1.

Continuing to adopt and implement tobacco control policies can motivate users to quit, help youth choose not to start, and improve the quality of the air we all breathe.


1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking & Cigarettes. Smoking & Tabacco Use Fast Facts and Fact Sheets. May 2023.
2 American Cancer Society. Health Risks of Smokeless Tabacco. Cancer Risk and Prevention. October 2020.
Holford T R, Meza R, Warner K E, et al. Tobacco control and the reduction in smoking-related premature deaths in the United States. JAMA; 2014.


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